Mr Gove, please stop the casual killing of Jays

Common Jay (Garrulus glandarius) collecting peanuts from ground (under feeder) UK. Photo: Andy Rouse

Michael Gove has taken back control of issuing general licences from Natural England (possibly because Gove’s predecessors as Secretary of State had depleted Natural England’s staff resources so much that they couldn’t possibly cope with the work) and has issued a consultation on general licences.

It is a muddled consultation issued on the Saturday of a Bank Holiday weekend and closing at 5pm tomorrow, Monday.

At Wild Justice, we are preparing a formal, technical response to the consultation which we will submit tomorrow and which we will publish on this blog, and through our newsletter, tomorrow after the consultation closes.

The consultation asks that membership organisations seek the views of their members and collate them – Wild Justice is not a membership organisation so we are asking members of the public to respond to the consultation with one simple ask, as follows:

‘Please Mr Gove, don’t allow the killing of Jays under any future general licences. There is no scientific or economic case for allowing this beautiful bird to be killed. On the previous discredited and revoked general licences the Jay was listed on all three of them suggesting that it might be a hazard to crops, livestock, human health, nature conservation etc. I note with pleasure that in the documents issued by Natural England before Defra grabbed back responsibility for these matters, that the plans for licensing of lethal control of Jays had shrunk to the possibility of licensing control for the purpose of protecting wild birds. There is no scientific case for this and I ask you not to issue a general licence for Jay-killing.

The BTO Chief Executive Dr Andy Clements, who is also a Board member of Natural England, wrote that ‘there may be insufficient scientific evidence to merit the inclusion of Jay on the licence list in order to conserve birds’ and I agree with him, except I think it is even now obvious that there is no ‘may be’ about it.

The RSPB, which manages over 150,000ha of land, and carries out limited predator control on its nature reserves, does not kill Jays because it sees no need and no conservation value in killing them.

The science does not allow you, Secretary of State, to authorise an open general licence to kill Jays as there is no evidence of any conservation problem that such killing could possibly help to prevent.’

If you do respond to the consultation then please remain polite. Here are the details of how to respond.